Jermain Defoe says Rangers players must take blame for Hearts loss

‘We let the manager down’: Jermain Defoe admits Rangers players were to blame for Scottish Cup loss to Hearts as Steven Gerrard admits he needs time to ‘think’ about his future

  • Steven Gerrard’s future as Rangers manager ‘in doubt’ after loss to Hearts
  • Rangers went down 1-0 at Tynecastle to exit Scottish Cup at quarter-final stage
  • They are 12 points behind rivals Celtic in race for Scottish Premiership title
  • But Rangers did make it through to last-16 of the Europa League last week
  • Striker Jermain Defoe backed his manager, saying players were at fault for loss 

Jermain Defoe confessed Steven Gerrard has been let down by his Rangers squad, but the veteran striker insists his old England colleague is still the man to bring the glory days back to Ibrox.

Rangers crashed out of the Scottish Cup at the same place where the wheels came off their Premiership title bid as they lost to Hearts at Tynecastle for the second time in five weeks.

It was a brutal low just three days on from the euphoria Gerrard and his players felt as they stunned Braga in midweek to reach the last-16 of the Europa League.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is considering his future at the club after a cup loss to Hearts

Jermain Defoe rues a missed chance during Saturday’s game with Hearts at Tynecastle

Now Gerrard is staring at a second trophyless season in charge, unless his team can complete an unlikely march from the Europa League last 16 to glory in Gdansk.

The former Liverpool skipper hinted he is considering his future in Glasgow after admitting he needs time to ‘think’.

But Defoe urged Gerrard and the rest of the squad to stick together and rediscover the winning formula that made them such a force during the first half of the campaign.

Asked if Gerrard was still the right man for the job, the 37-year-old said: ‘Of course. The last-16 in Europe is an unbelievable achievement for this football club.

Gerrard clashed with Hearts’ Steven Naismith at half-time before heading down the tunnel

The Gers were well below par in their performance and Gerrard questioned their desire

RANGERS FIXTURES

Scottish Premiership unless stated

Wednesday Hamilton (H)

March 8 Ross County (A)

March 12 Bayer Leverkusen (H)

Europa League last-16, first leg

March 15 Celtic (H)

March 19 Bayer Leverkusen (A)

Europa League last-16, second leg

March 21 St Mirren (A) 

‘It is just a case of the team being consistent, which is probably the hardest thing in football, but the top teams do it game after game after game – being consistent, putting in those top performances.

‘Obviously, there are times like Wednesday night when you look at the team and think: “That’s a top team and a strong squad”.

‘Then we come here and sort of let ourselves down. We let the manager down, if you like.

‘I just think it is important, as a group, that we just stick together. It is easy when you win and everyone is together and buzzing about. I think it is important we stick together as a group no matter what happens.

‘That is all you can do at this moment in time.

‘It is hard for me to say what the manager is thinking. I don’t know what the manager is thinking.

‘I can imagine how he is feeling because this is a football club where you have to perform, win games and win trophies.

Rangers trail their Old Firm rivals Celtic by 12 points in the Scottish Premiership title race

Hearts sank Rangers on Saturday night to progress to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup 

‘That sort of pressure is the reality and that’s an opportunity gone to get our first trophy together, so everyone is disappointed, of course.

‘It is the same for everyone. We will go away together, watch the game and then go from there.’

It is Hearts who now march on to Hampden Park after Oliver Bozanic grabbed the only goal, but skipper Steven Naismith has told his team-mates they have to hit the heights they manage against Rangers every week.

New boss Daniel Stendel has achieved only one league win from the 11 he has been in charge of and it also came against the Ibrox men back in January.

Now Naismith wants to see a repeat performance of Saturday’s 1-0 win when the basement boys head to city rivals Hibernian on Tuesday night.

The loss to Hearts came as a contrast to Rangers’ midweek victory over Braga in Europe

He said: ‘That’s the challenge for us. After that game in the league everybody expected us to kick on and it didn’t happen.

‘We can’t fall into that trap again, although fortunately we’ve got a good game to go into next. It’s a derby, so everybody is going to be up for it anyway.

‘It’s now or never, we need to start picking up results in the league and it’s as simple as that.’

 

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